Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and coffee snob

Category: Coffee & Roasting

A pile of freshly-roasted coffee beans

Improvising a vacation coffee dripper

Last week, my wife, daughter, in-laws, and I took a week long vacation to the west coast of Michigan. Bookended by two weekends in Grand Rapids (the second of which was centered around WordCamp Grand Rapids), we rented a cottage in Spring Lake, just outside Grand Haven, MI.

The trip started off well enough (I should mention that my in-laws and I get along well, and my father-in-law joined me a couple of years ago on my walk across Columbus), but things got rough once we arrived at the cottage. No, it wasn’t family drama, nor was the toddler to blame (though her “terrible twos” aren’t helping) — the coffee pot in the cottage was on its last leg.

The first morning, the coffee was…okay. I had brought some beans from Upper Cup Coffee (one of my hometown favorites), but the coffee pot had obviously not been well-maintained. The coffee maker itself took about 30min to brew a 12 cup pot (which is way too damn long!), and when we tried to make a second pot the coffee maker decided it’d had enough: the heating element stopped working, and no heat means no hot coffee (and a severe lack of cognitive function on my part).

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A glass of cold-brew coffee, served over ice, with a swirl of cream.

Brewing your own cold-brew coffee in a French Press

I’ve read plenty of tutorials on making your own cold-brew coffee in a French Press before (Home Grounds has a great guide), but it wasn’t until today that I realized just how easy (and tasty) it can be!

My good friend Matthew Haynes, Head Roaster at Inland Seas Coffee, has a beautiful glass cold-brew maker that serves double-duty as a brewer and an art piece, but there are also plenty of more economical choices for the home cold-brewer, like the popular Toddy system.

Did you know that you can easily make great tasting cold-brew coffee at home with items you likely already have lying around? I’ll show you a few ways you can be drinking great cold-brew coffee by tomorrow morning!

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A Chemex pour-over being prepared in a coffee shop

Steal this Idea: “Be Your Own Barista” Bars

Last week, I went to New York City for my very first time. The city was amazing: iconic landmarks, outstanding food, and a mix of people from all walks of life. I don’t think I could see myself living in New York, but I’d happily go for a vacation at the drop of a hat.

One thing that struck me, however, was the lack of great coffee. Perhaps it was just my neighborhood (Tribeca), but even great shops like La Colombe Coffee offered an espresso bar or drip coffee. No pour-overs, no French Press, nor Chemex; my choices were coffee-plus-something or black coffee that’s been sitting in an airpot. It wasn’t until a colleague and I wandered into Everyman Espresso that I was actually able to get a Chemex, and it blew every other coffee I had that week out of the water.

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The handsome, brown paper packaging with the Driftaway Coffee logo stamped on the front

Review: Driftaway Coffee

The other day I was contacted by Suyog Mody, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Driftaway Coffee, welcoming me to the world of home-roasting. As it turns out, he also started his home-roasting adventure on a popcorn popper before moving onto bigger and better roasters; a popcorn popper is great for starting out and for personal roasting, but wouldn’t be suitable for roasting at a distribution scale.

I did some digging, and found that Driftaway’s offerings were pretty cool: after determining each customer’s taste preferences, Driftaway roasts and ships fresh bags of coffee to your door every two weeks. For a suburb-dweller such as myself this is huge, as one of the main reasons I got into home roasting was to avoid making weekly trips downtown to buy fresh coffee (believe it or not, big-chain grocery stores don’t always have the freshest coffees). The beans will change over time, but Driftaway tracks the types of tasting notes that each customer likes (their “Coffee Profile”) and sends small-batch, hand-roasted coffee fortnightly to match.

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Adventures in Home Roasting: “Old Fashioned” Ethiopian Coffee

This weekend I was ready for another fresh batch of coffee; I picked out a bean (Ethiopia Kaffa from the Mitchiti Coop), opened my log book, and realized this was my tenth roast (I count double-batches as a single roast in my logs)!

To commemorate the occasion, I decided to make another alcohol-infused roast; you might remember the bourbon-infused coffee I wrote about a few weeks ago, and just last weekend I roasted up a batch of Rwandan coffee using OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka from Middle West Spirits, my favorite local distillery. This time, I attempted to create a cocktail in my coffee, mixing the hot-out-of-the-roaster coffee beans with the ingredients for an Old Fashioned, my favorite classic cocktail.

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Freshly-roasted, bourbon-infused coffee on a cooling tray in front of a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon

Adventures in Home Roasting: Bourbon-infused Coffee

As you may recall, I recently started roasting my own coffee at home. I decided to use my lunch break yesterday to roast up a fresh batch for the weekend, but as soon as I was done cleaning up the wheels in my head started turning. “I wonder what it would take to do a whisky-infused coffee?”, I thought to myself as I sat down for the second-half of my day.

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Getting Started with Roasting Coffee at Home

Since starting to work from home in the fall, my personal coffee expenses have risen; not only am I drinking coffee at home seven days a week, but I no longer have the excuse of “well, the office coffee isn’t the best, but at least it’s free.”

Columbus has some fantastic local roasters–Café Brioso, Stauf’s, and One Line Coffee, to name a few–but most of the best shops are located closer to downtown, making it rather inconvenient for a suburb-dweller such as myself. There are a few places closer to home where I can purchase the beans, but there’s a limited selection and no guarantee on freshness. Meanwhile, my local grocery store’s offerings are run-of-the-mill macro-roasts (Folgers, Maxwell House, Starbucks, etc.).

Inspired partly by a Twitter conversation with Joel Worsham and by Matt Haynes, my mentor in all things caffeinated, I decided to give roasting coffee at home a try.

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Be excellent to each other.